Rinzai 135

Or it may be that the teacher does not posit anything at all, but follows the student’s lead, and then snatches the question away from him. Though robbed, the student cannot drop it and clings to it till death. This is called ‘a host sees through a guest.’


This paragraph shows how a master sees through a student. A master just waits and sees what the student says and how he acts. When the student asks him a question, the master answers his question by revealing the true-Self with words that are beyond literal meaning instead of giving a doctrinal explanation. This is to snatch the question away. Words such as these that masters use in order to reveal the true-Self are referred to as words that cannot be put into action. I will give you an example. One day a monastic visits a master and asks him for teaching:

Student: “Sir, what is the true-Self?”

Master: “How long did it take to come here?”

Student: “It took three days.”

Master: “Thank you for coming such a long way, but I am sorry I cannot answer your question.”

Student: “Why can’t you answer?”

Master: “Because I don’t know.”

In this dialogue the student is just following the literal meaning without grasping the key point of the master’s answer. In other words, the monastic is fooled by the master’s words even though the master gave him a correct answer. In this way, when a monastic clings to the literal meaning of the master’s words, we say that he cannot drop it and clings to it. This is called ‘a host sees through a guest.’

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

#zen #meditation #zenmeditation #enlightened #enlightenment #zenfools #photography

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